Vision: The Lumineers, Angela
Denver, Colorado-based American folk stars The Lumineers today released UK single Angela which has already been streamed over 25 Million times on Spotify and is one of the band’s strongest pieces of songwriting to date. The track is featured on the group’s seminal sophomore studio album Cleopatra, which was produced by Simone Felice. The album peaked at No. 1 on both the US Billboard 200 and UK album chart when released last year and has won praise from fans and critics alike.
Angela is a subtle and restrained classic folk-rock song, which could have come straight out of Laurel Canyon in the late 60s-70s. It builds and crescendos seemingly lost in the vault of classic songwriting, reappeared in 2017 as ageless and compelling, drawing the listener in on the first note and keeping them hanging on until the last note. Keeping with the bands’ calling card for song serving restraint, Angela stands strongly on its own with a simple picked guitar line and lonely lead vocal which builds slowly, heartily to the hooky “Home at last” chorus.
The only track written in the studio at the time of recording, Angela felt the freshest of the batch the group recorded for LP2 and with that came a touch of uncertainty for the group. Reflecting on the creative process behind the track frontman Wesley Schultz stated: “We came into the studio with a batch of songs, but Angela was not one of them. But soon after we arrived, I found myself strumming the chords over and over and trying to work out verse melodies. Eventually, we decided it was a good verse, but wasn’t yet a song because it had no chorus. Simone, the producer, and Ryan Hewitt, the engineer, began recording me and Jer just running the song over and over. It went on so long, the two of them left, without us noticing, and ate dinner and came back. By the time they returned we had come up with the chorus and bridge. Luckily they had left the tape running, so we could go back and figure out what we had done and loved so much. Unlike the rest of the album, this song was written entirely in the studio. Because of that, you can hear a rawness and danger in it, that tends to go away as you get more familiar with a song. Also, most of the lyrics were written on a motorcycle – I was riding my Triumph through the Catskills with Simone (on his Suzuki), singing lyrics over the melody.”
Producer Simon Felice added: “I believe it all sprung from this cool, driving piano idea of Jer’s, which inspired the vocal melody of the verses, which opened the door to the song as a whole. It was the only cut off of Cleopatra that was written from scratch in the studio, a sort of 11th hour Hail Mary that we didn’t really see coming, which might explain that special, spontaneous urgency hiding just beneath the surface. One of my strongest memories is how good it felt when we finally got the middle 8 right, ‘Vacancy, hotel room, lost in me, lost in you…’, I was in the control room listening to Wes sing and I just spontaneously started clapping, I couldn’t help it, felt like a hallelujah moment, we quickly put up a mic and recorded the claps together that you hear on the record.”
The video for Angela was part of a series of five videos for the record and was directed by Isaac Ravishankara. The series tells the story of a woman (Cleopatra – the albums’ namesake) in reverse chronological order. In Angela we find our heroine in her early 20s, pregnant – and making a life-changing decision as we follow two parallel story lines. Discussing the video Wesley Schultz stated, “The Angela video is beautiful chapter of this music video series that our director Isaac, came up with… Like the other videos, it presents a sort of sliding-doors scenario, where our central character, a pregnant Cleopatra, is at a crossroads. If she chooses one path, her life will be drastically than the other”.
The band’s cameo in the video – playing a small house concert – is endearing considering the monster tour schedule they have unveiled for 2017. The Cleopatra World Tour has included two sold-out performances at New York City’s Madison Square Garden and continues across the USA, Canada, Japan and Australia. They will return to the UK and Europe this summer with an appearance at BST in London’s Hyde Park (With Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty) and then back to the US to play 13 stadium shows with U2.
Tickets for July’s British Summer Time show in London’s Hyde Park, including The Lumineers‘ slot alongside Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty, are on sale now and can be picked up over here: http://www.bst-hydepark.com/tickets